Friday, February 19, 2010

A Letter to Persitz, 1952

Cover of a letter from E. A. Mandelbaum to Rafi Persitz from the 1952 Olympiad

In the 1952 Olympiad, Mandelbaum had written interesting letters to Persitz in Tel Aviv, describing his experiences. He writes after the second letter noting that 'the Russians were very surprised from the quality of our game' despite the fact the final result 'might not look good on the cross-table'.

The most interesting part of the letters is Mandelbaum's description of the local scene -- the other teams and, especially, the other Jews, whether in the teams or in the local Jewish community:
And now a few chizbatim [gossip, tall tales -- A.P.]: the Finns arranged everything in an exemplary manner, including special food tickets for the players. The teams are extremely varied -- Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks. Our team made a good impression with the goyim [gentiles, non-Jews - A.P.]. The people here are very different: the Argentineans with their elegant uniform, the Russians in their composed, elegant clothes... we learned that six of the seven Americans (including the captain) are Jews. Reshevsky remained observant and proud... We made many new friends among the players.
Our local brethren [Finnish Jews - A.P.] are very excited and follow us with great interest. They welcomed us with their cars and try to make our time pleasurable. We feel great in their homes. This is one of the greatest events of their lives... they will tell it from father to son to grandson.
Mandelbaum notes the following about Ossip Bernstein, who visited the Olypiad:
You will be glad to hear that Dr. Bernstein was here and was received with great honors. His mere presence is a very pleasant surprise for us. A nice man, full of wisdom, who loves Jews... even knows some Talmud and Hebrew... We have many interesting conversations with him. Despite his age, he is young and light in his spirit. He has many acquaintances in Israel... everybody respects him. He is, after all, the last Mohican... He seems an important reason for the special treatment we are getting.
Thanks to Hadi Or and Yoram Lublianiker for the letter.


Rafael and Refael are variants transliterations of Persitz's first name. Rafi, Raffi, Raffie, etc., are variants of the contraction of his first name, that is used in day-to-day conversation (like 'Will' for 'William').


Once more I can't seem to get the font sizes right in blogger. My apologies.

No comments:

Post a Comment